anastasia-cherubin asked: Hi Amanda! It's been a few months since I last left you a message and was recently inspired by your reply to another artist who mentioned CTNX. I've only heard this name one other time and my animation friends don't know a thing about it. I'm thinking it would be a great opportunity for me to attend and have a chance to show my portfolio; however, I'd like some advice on what a character artist portfolio needs to look great. I can imitate other styles, but how would that benefit my portfolio?
Hey hey! CTNX is wonderful. For anyone who doesn’t know: CTNX is an animation expo held every November in Burbank, CA. It features artist booths, panels with industry pros, live demos, and countless portfolio reviews with major studios and artists. (I’m a HUGE proponent of getting your portfolio critted by as many people as you can stomach, because the feedback is invaluable.) Also, everyone is SUPER nice there, so it’s a totally safe environment to share art and get advice!
Now, your actual question: character design portfolios! To address your concern about styles, it’s, as all things are, trickier than one might hope. haha. I’ll try to break it down:
1) Know the company you’re showing to. Like I said in my last askbox reply, knowing what studio you’re approaching usually informs the kind of art you show, and this is true of character design. For example, Laika probably isn’t looking for the same kind of style as Disney, so your stuff could be a hit with one and not the other.
2) Know if your style is more TV or feature animation. There’s a definite difference, and one’s not better than the other. But Pixar probably isn’t looking for a portfolio that’s tailored for Cartoon Network. Again, it’s about knowing your audience and knowing the visual difference.
3) There’s no “one way” to get into the industry. Some people get in because their style is so unique, that no one else can do it so the studio HAAAS to have THEEEEM. Other people show they’re so versatile in their styles, that employers are excited to have someone on the team that can handle anything. Because of this, it’s kind of a matter of assessing your own artwork and figuring out where you fall in that spectrum as a designer.
4) Does your work have “broad appeal”, e.g. could it fit many employers? Keep in mind: it doesn’t have to, at all! But there are probably more places that can find a spot for you if it does. My style can kind of fit anywhere, so I used the same portfolio for all the studios. I showcased roughly two feature animation “styles” that I do, to show I can adapt but that I also have a voice. If my artwork was more experimental, I’d just have to know how it might limit my choices. Or, I might have to make the additional effort to show other styles as proof I can do different things.
In general with character portfolios: show characters’ personalities. Yes, design is important, but it’s only half of character design. You can have awesome shapes going on, but if the character is standing there, blank expression and static pose, then I’ll have no idea who this person is or what I should think of her. Make your characters ACT and MOVE. Show them expressing emotion. Show them interacting with and reacting to other characters. These people you’re making won’t exist in a bubble: they’ll be on screen moving around, so you want to show HOW’D they’d move. WHY they’d be engaging to watch. MAKE us care. Tell us a STORY. Animation is simply story, and characters are the vehicles to tell it. Also, “finished” work isn’t essential. Really excellent, emotive sketches can go a very long way.
I hope some of this helps. If there’s anything you want me to expand on, feel free to ask!
Here, sometimes I pretend I show enough art publicly that people believe I really do this for a living and am good at it. Enough so to warrant giving advice to others. Here’s some of that advice. HAHA
People are boycotting Kraft just because of this one ad
Wow, when you put it that way it almost seems like we live in a rampantly sexist, misogynistic, and hypocritical society.
Yes we do my friend. Yes we do.